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Parents concerned over headmaster misconduct claims

Posted March 13, 2012

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— Some parents at East Wake Academy in Zebulon say they are concerned about how the charter school is handling allegations that its top administrator had inappropriate conduct with teachers.

Because charter schools operate independently of county school systems, the school's board of directors is handling the matter, which involves headmaster Brandon Smith and two teachers.

Parent Becky Thornton said Tuesday that she is disappointed that Smith is still working amid the investigation.

"I think that puts undue stress on the teachers," she said.

Some parents said they kept their children home from school Tuesday because they were concerned about the controversy.

At an emergency meeting Monday night, some parents voiced their concerns to the board of directors about what they say is a serious situation that they feel has been shrouded in secrecy.

"It's been brought to my attention that two teachers at the school have signed documents indicating sexual harassment involving the headmaster of our school," parent Sheri Williams said.

East Wake Academy Parents concerned over headmaster misconduct claims

Smith declined an interview Tuesday, but the board's vice chairman, Bill Ausley, confirmed that there is an investigation involving Smith.

"It's still pending," Ausley said, declining to comment on the nature of that investigation.

He said that there is another board meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, when the board hopes to reach a resolution about the situation.

The board's six other directors couldn't be reached for comment.

Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said the police department has received several calls over the past few days from people concerned about the situation but that none of them have been from the alleged victims.

"We are aware of the story, but until we get a victim who comes forward and says, 'I want to file a report,' we have nothing to hang our hat on," Hayworth said.

Joel Medley, director of the state's Office of Charter Schools, said that charter school boards have absolute discretion and autonomy when it comes to personnel issues and that the state becomes involved only if a crime is committed or the allegations involve students.

According to Smith's profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn, he has been the headmaster at East Wake Academy since July 2002.

Court records show that a teacher at a Githens Middle School in Durham, where Smith used to work, claimed that she was sexually harassed by him in the late 1990s and that she filed a lawsuit against the county school board. It was later dismissed.

Jeffrey Nash, a spokesman for Durham Public Schools, said Smith worked for the school system from 1993 until 2000. He said he was still researching Tuesday afternoon the circumstances of why Smith left.

74 Comments

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  • PorkyBunny Mar 21, 2012

    Interesting that just because charges are filed previously or accusations are made previously then those are used against this man but if you are an attorney and have complaints filed against you at the NC Bar then those complaints are sealed and no one can even see the pattern of behavior. So the attorneys hide their misdeeds and then use other people potential misdeeds to convict them in the press.

  • truth.will.set.you.free Mar 15, 2012

    Look, Unless you have worked with this man. or been a student with this man. you cannot speak about this matter.. i am a former student. and i have seen/heard/ and expirienced this man for 5 years. honestly. i believe he is guilty for what has been thrown his way... and you are entitled to believe what you would like. if you think he is innocent and would trust your kids around him. then fine. thats your decision. but i know if i was a parent.. i would never let my kids near him. because i know 1st hand who he is.. unless you spend 8 hrs a day near/around this man for 5 years. you have nothing but assumptions of who this man is... did your parents ever teach you. there are 3 sides to every story. He said, she said. and the truth.

  • shortshooter Mar 14, 2012

    If charges are indeed filed, then GOOD!!! This situation need not rest in the hands of volunteer Board Members that work hand in hand with the accused.

  • lemonlime Mar 14, 2012

    Charges are filed!!!

  • lemonlime Mar 14, 2012

    Lpk... Even I have to say that you are starting to sound a little unstable yourself. And the lies that you are stating are horrendous. Wow...

  • shortshooter Mar 14, 2012

    I also find it hard to believe that the fault lies with numerous different people with the same complaint versus numerous complaints about the same person. It's just that simple.

  • JustAsking Mar 14, 2012

    Have any of you considered the fact that these 2 women knew of his past issues, were very upset about not being reinstated/rehired and decided to use his past against him. So Mr Smith had issues in Durham which were dismissed and now these women are using this against him. It would make their story a bit more plausible. It would not be the first time someone cried "rape" knowing all along they were just out to "get" someone - look at the movie Rosewood and the many other incidents in the past. I hope they have some good evidence to prove what they are saying is true.

  • drifter99 Mar 14, 2012

    gottalovenc-- They start with the two teachers right!! Thanks for clearing that up. I guess we will see Mr.Smith tomorrow based on your post!

  • shortshooter Mar 14, 2012

    I am sickened by the attacks being made against the parents who obviously KNEW that if nothing had been said then NOTHING would have been done! In my opinion that is the whole point. IT IS ABOUT TIME and LONG OVERDUE, period!

  • lemonlime Mar 14, 2012

    These parents didn't start this! They are CONCERNED about what has been alleged against the Headmaster. Again... Read the arrival people and get your facts straight.

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